Archive | Marvel RSS feed for this section

EVENT REVIEW : FEAR ITSELF

3 Nov


There is nothing to fear but Fear Itself”


Well, yeah. The event kinda sucked.

The Premise
Bad jokes aside, Fear Itself is the recently finished Marvel company-wide crossover event, primarily centred around Thor and Captain America, two heroes that had movies releasing over the summer.
The story revolves around Odin’s Brother, The Serpent (First name : The, Last Name : Serpent) escaping the prison once set for

him and then , with the help of his 8 hammer powered henchmen, Sin, Hulk, the Thing, Attuma, The Absorbing Man, Titania, Juggernaut and the Grey Gargoyle, engulfs the whole planet with fear trying to make himself stronger.
This was originally planned as a Cap/Thor crossover but soon developed into a Full Blown crossover, considering the fact that Marvel hadn’t come up with one for a year and a half.
Pre-launch, the series was said to have metaphors for how fear has gripped the modern real world.
Also, if you plan to read Fear Itself, this is me SPOILER ALERTing this aricle and advising you to read this after you read the series.


.

Review : The Main Series

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Matt Fraction writing for books with bigger casts. At one hand, he can come up with some of the best work in comics today with titles like Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor and Immortal Iron Fist, while on the other hand, he has been under fire from critics for titles such as his consistently inconsistent run on Uncanny X-Men.

Fear Itself reads very different (and much better) when read in a collected form, rather than individual issues over months. Fraction is known to expand a given story to insert more characterisation, an approach that does seem to be working well for the early part of the event, with Fraction effectively portraying the public gloom as things get grittier for the heroes, but sometime around the Death of Bucky Barnes, that approach pretty much gets thrown out of the window, making way for people with hammers fighting. We do get plenty of great moments for the characters(more on that later), but somewhere before the middle of the series, cohesive storytelling gets affected severely.
What the series does have going for it is the fact that it led to a lasting impact on the three most prominent heroes in the Marvel Universe : Captain America, Thor and Iron Man. Bucky dies, whic means Steve has to wield the shield again, right in time for the movie. Iron Man breaks his sobriety and bows down to Odin. And Thor takes nine steps and sacrifices himself to save Midgard. Except for a little bit here and there, everyone else is pretty much in the background.
Despite the problems with the script, the one man who managed to make this title a must read is Stuart Immonen. This event was certainly his biggest break, after stellar work on Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers, and he didn’t disappoint. We have some beautiful visuals throughout, along with brilliantly rendered action scenes which make you feel every blow. I loved Oliver Coipel’s work on Siege, the last Marvel event, but this is on a whole different level.
Moments from Fear Itself

Steve Rogers has no idea what to do with an agitated mob
Tony Stark proposes a solution : To Rebuild Asgard as a gesture of goodwill.

The Name’s Serpent, The Serpent

Odin knows there’s trouble brewing and leads the Asgardians out of Earth.

The Red Skull attacks Washington

Bucky dies a soldier’s death. No one seems to care much about him after this, though.

Aaaaaaand Cap’s suited up again.


In what is easily Tony Stark’s defining moment in the event, he loses his sobriety to gain Odin’s Attention.

Thor challenges the Serpent, but is instead sent to face Hammer-powered Hulk and Thing.
Just to show that he’s a badass, The Serpent breaks Cap’s shield.

People going out of character all over. Spidey runs away to be with his Aunt, and Cap accepts defeat. Double Facepalm.

Cap has balls.

After making Odin-blessed Uru weapons for the Avengers, Stark has to take a Molten Uru bath for his armor to be blessed.

Cap decides to hold the line against Dark Asgard solo. He’s confident it’s gonna be alright because one Cap has already died in the event.

All hail the mighty.

It appears Cap is as worthy as they come.

Thor strikes the Serpent, sacrificing himself in the process.


See you next summer, Thor.
The stage is set for Shattered Heroes.
Tie-ins
Fear Itself was very different from other events because the tie-ins turned out to be not only good, but quite a few were actually better than the Main series. Here’s a few.
1) Invincible Iron Man

Remember what I said earlier about Fraction on this title? This is what I was talking about. The Fear Itself arc covers the fall and subsequent rise of Tony Stark during the event. One half of the arc is about him fighting the Grey Gargoyle in a Grey Gargoyle-d Paris (and getting his posterior kicked) and then creating weapons for the avengers in Odin’s workshop. Excellent character work.
as
2) Journey into Mystery
Kieron Gillen writes the best Loki I have ever read. Excellent writing with an amazing blend of humor and myth makes this a must buy
.
3) Uncanny X-Men
X-Men vs. Hammer powered Juggernaut. Colossus takes up Juggernaut mantle. Written by Kieron Gillen. Take my money, please.
4) Avengers Academy
The faculty and students battle the worthy. Excellent character work and team dynamics throughout. Christos Gage at his best.

5) Hulk
Jeff Parker’s current run really proves that there is no such thing as a bad character. Red Hulk vs the Thing/Angrir.
Final Word
This is my least favourite recent Marvel crossover event. What it has working for it is Stuart Immonen, overall good tie-ins and some memorable moments with some lasting impact. What it doesn’t have working for it is Fraction’s confused writing, overall weak premise and the fact that it is centred around just 5 characters (Cap, Thor, Stark, The Serpent and the Red Skull). It’s certainly not a painful read, but it’s also no Civil War. The final verdict is this : Buy Watchmen if you have a choice between this and Watchmen. Bad Example, I know, you always buy Watchmen when it’s a choice between anything and Watchmen.
Score : Main Series : 6.8/10 (2.2/5 for Fraction, 4.6/5 for Immonen)
Overall Event : 7.5/10
Advertisements

A Big Halloween Treat: An Interview with How It Should Have Ended

30 Oct
Since most everyone who reads Comic Addicts is too old to go trick or treating we decided to give a big ol’ treat anyway. We were able to have a chat with the folks at How It Should Have Ended (HISHE). They were really cool folks who were happy to chat with us.
For those unfamiliar with HISHE it’s a couple of guys, and a gal, who decided that movies didn’t always end the way they felt they should have. So they started doing their own parody endings much to the amusement of many people. We here at Comic Addicts were curious about some of the things over at HISHE and here is what they had to say:

How do you make your movies?

Each cartoon takes at least 3 weeks. We usually spend one week on script writing and primary art (characters we know we are going to use despite the script). Then one week on all the rest of the art and depending on the scope, we would start animating this week as well. It is also during the second week that we do our voice recording, which has to happen before animating so that we have a timeline. Week 3 is final animation, sound editing, and music score. Plus all the graphics. A lot of times this 3 week schedule requires late nights and weekends, so it’s a lot of work.


Is there a storyboard involved?

Yes, we storyboard after we have finalized a script so that we know exactly what art we need to make.



What program (s) do you use?

Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut



How much planning goes into a movie?

Definitely depends on the movie. There are some cartoons where we know months in advance that we are going to tackle it, so the conversations on scripts start early. Others (like recent theater releases– Avatar, Thor, etc.) we only have a short period of time so there are a lot of late nights.



Are there any audio outtakes from you guys goofing around?

Ha-ha. Sure, there are definitely some funny voice recordings as you might imagine.



Any plans to post the outtakes?

Now that we’ve committed to releasing a new video every Thursday on Youtube, you will definitely be seeing some more behind the scenes stuff. We will probably compile some outtakes. It’s tough since we are not necessarily accustomed to being on camera. J



Now that you’re a web sensation is there more pressure than before when you were doing it just for fun?

Um, YES.



Is it difficult sometimes to be funny?

Yes. The nature of what we do makes it tough sometimes because finding a logical flaw in a film is not always hilarious too. We go through a LOT of re-writes and ultimately we do our best. Different cartoons will lean one way or another sometimes as a result (between logic and silliness).



Are there arguments over how the movie should be?

LOL. What an insightful question. Yes, we definitely disagree sometimes, but ultimately some of our best writing comes from wrestling through different opinions.



Do you sit on pins and needles after a movie gets put up to see how people will react to it?

It’s like you’ve spied on us!! Absolutely. We’re our worst critics. Comments are sometimes really harsh and it’s difficult not to be affected by them. Seeing how a new release does is a big deal around here.



We notice there are a lot of comic book parodies on there, granted there are a lot of comic book movies, but honestly, how big of comic geeks are you?

Truthfully we’re a little late to the party when it comes to comics and ultimately we’re spoofing the movies not the books. But we started going to the San Diego Comic Con 4 years ago and each year we pick up a little more. We’re definitely not experts, but we’re becoming fans for sure.



Has there ever been an issue with copyright over the movies?

No, we definitely fall into parody law. All our art and music is original and meant to be a spoof or a parody.



Has any of the movie studios gotten on your back for what you do?

Not at all. We’ve even received some fun feedback. We have a few friends at Pixar and found out our Toy Story HISHE circulated the building there and the director for Toy Story 3 even tweeted about it!



How big is your fan base?

It’s hard to be exact. As of today (Oct. 11, 11) we have 480,000 subscribers on youtube.



Were you ever inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Of course! I would say lots of forms of skit and parody comedy have influenced us. Daniel watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 in college and he and his friends definitely laughed at the way they heckled films. I’d say our style is very much influenced by that form of comedy.



What has been the craziest moment or thing to happen at HISHE?

Winning the Streamy Award in 2010 was pretty crazy for us. We were shocked and honored to be among the other nominees.



Any plans for the future for HISHE? Hints maybe?

Hmmm… a hint. Well, we’ll definitely finish off the original Star Wars trilogy. And I imagine we’ll also tackle at least one of the major comic book films coming out next summer.

Thanks a lot for the chat! It’s been fun talking with you folks and keep up the good work!

Visit How It Should Have Ended’s website and suscribe to them on YouTube for the latest videos as well as favorites.

What You Should be Reading : Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man hits the Big Time!

15 Oct

(Click to enlarge!)
I’m usually not one for clichés, but Spider-Man and Wolverine are right up there in my list of all-time favourite comic book characters. The story goes that I came back to reading comic books three and a half years ago, a time when both characters were beginning with their respective iconic runs, with the rotating team of Web-Heads (Joe Kelly, Dan Slott, Fred Van Lente, Mark Waid etc.) on the Amazing Spider-Man and Jason Aaron (of Scalped fame) on Wolverine : Weapon X and later the new volume of Wolverine (and now Schism and Wolverine and the X-Men). For today though, let’s just save the talk on Aaron’s Wolverine for another day and concentrate on what Spidey’s been up to of late.
(Click to enlarge!)
The Run-Up
See, the story leading up to Slott’s solo run really starts with the Spider-Man crossover event One More Day , co-penned by the then ASM writer Joe Michael Straczynski, a.k.a. JMS (grudgingly) and the then Marvel Editor-in-Chief (and now Chief Creative officer) (Seriously, someone cast this guy as Perry White already, he loves being called chief) Joe Quesada. It involved Peter Parker making a deal with Mephisto (essentially The Devil) to save his (once again!) dying aunt in exchange for his marriage with Mary Jane Watson being erased from history. It was basically Marvel’s attempt to de-age Spidey and bring him back to his “more relatable roots”. Fans were obviously angry and plenty threatened to boycott the series. The initial year or so of Brand New Day, which was essentially what followed One More Day, was a critical disaster, as the writers were too concerned with establishing the new status quo and new villains, who felt a lot like rip-offs of classic members of Spidey’s Rouges gallery. However, once the dirty work was done,

a point which can be marked by the Character Assassination arc, the writers delivered one magnificent arc after another, making this title one of the biggest bestsellers in the market. The Brand New Day phase lasted a whopping 101 issues, thanks to the thrice-monthly schedule, and set the stage perfectly for Dan Slott’s solo run on the book, under the Big Time banner.

Dan the Man
Dan Slott’s strengths as a writer for ASM include his uncanny ability to combine the charm last seen in the 60’s on the title, under Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, with a very modern relatable feel. What this basically means is that he knows the universal time-transcending appeal of the character while adding relevance and contemporary concepts to his stories. The basic status quo of Big Time involves Pete getting a new job at Horizon Labs, getting a new girlfriend in the form of NYPD detective Carlie Cooper and juggling al this with his responsibilities to the streets of New York, Two Avengers teams as well as the Future Foundation. With a star studded revolving team of artist consisting of Humberto Ramos, Stefanno Castelli and Marcos Martin, he certainly has plenty of choice in regards to finding the right tone for each arc.
Click to enlarge the amazing!
Arc one
The first arc seeks to generally set the new status quo for ol’ webhead, while introducing a not-really-new goblin. It opens with Spidey leading the Avengers (yes, you heard that right) against Doc Ock’s ‘War of the Worlds’ inspired octobots, while we see Phil Urich take up the mantle of Hobgoblin. Fantastically written and illustrated, the arc serves the purpose of laying the foundation of what is set to happen later on while clearly distinguishing its tone from BND. It’s got all the trademarks and decompression and does take a while to read. 
(Click to enlarge!)
The Bad Guys
23 issues in the run so far, we’ve seen Slott go through plenty of villains from Spidey’s rouges gallery without falling into cliché or camp territory. The one’s we have seen so far are the Hobgoblin, Doc Ock and the sinister six, Spider-Slayers, the De-venomized and Re-scorpionised Mac Gargan, a new villain who goes by Massacre, Anti-Venom, Venom, Mister Negative and easily the villain most dreaded by Spidey Fans : <Drumroll> The Jackal. All very well (and awesomely) handled. 
What’s with Ock?
It’s apparent that Doc Ock and the Sinister Six are planning something big. There have been plenty of appearances in the Marvel Universe here and there to suggest that. First, he shows up in Amazing Spider-man #648, unleashing giant octobots on Manhattan as a diversion to infiltrate a military base with tiny octobots. Next, we see him dueling with the three smartest men in the Marvel Universe (Reed Richards,Tony Stark and Hank Pym) at different moments, basically trying to prove he’s smarter than them. We know Slott is going with the same approach as his team did in BND, with multiple arcs leading up to the big tent-pole event. My bet would be on the summer of 2012, with The Amazing Spider-man movie coming up.
(Click to enlarge!)
Spider-Island
Speaking of tentpoles, here’s the one currently stopping the presses. See, it takes a very different kind of writer to write a good Jackal, leave alone making sense of something as crazy (and awesome) as every inhabitant of Manhattan morphing Spider-powers. By using bedbugs, no less, the Jackal his given the people of Manhattan great power, without the lesson of great responsibility. With tie-ins that are actually good (Hello, Flashpoint), its being called the best event of 2011. Recommendation : Go catch all he back issues and catch up while this event is still on!
(Click to enlarge!)
The Shipping Schedule
One of the most revolutionary things Marvel did with Brand New Day was the three times a month schedule. This allowed one single path of storytelling in one single title, rather than multiple series confusing readers with their timelines. When Slott started his solo run, the series became bi-weekly, which coupled with Slott’s decompression abilities pretty much means you get half an arc in the same time Bendis’ Avengers talk around on their A-marked Dining Table.
Sister Books
When the run started, we were given two sister books in the form of Paul Tobin’s sadly cancelled Spider-Girl and Kelly Sue Deconick’s excellent mini series Osborn. We currently have Rick Remender’s amazing (adjective, not part of the title) Venom series, starring “Flash” Thompson as the symbiote’s new host. A must read even if you’re not much of a Flash or Venom fan. Also we now have Zeb Wells and Joe Mad’s Avenging Spider-Man, which will look at Peter’s role as an Avenger. There certainly does seem to be an effort to build up on Spidey’s corner of the Marvel Universe.
Predictions for The Future
  • Mary Jane retains her Spider-powers post Spider-Island
  • Marvel has hinted at the return of the Scarlet Spider via teasers. Not only that, it appears Bleeding Cool is aware of his identity and has released a list of contenders (http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/09/30/who-is-the-new-scarlet-spider-we-have-the-answer-somewhere/) My guess? Mary Jane, Kaine or the returning Ben Reilly.
  • Venom goes on the run
  • The Osborns returns to Spidey Books. (Has been a while)
  • Ben Reilly is in the lab next to Pete’s at Horizon Labs.
  • Hobgoblin and Spidey discover each other’s identities.
  • The series continues its streak of awesomeness.

Hercules! IN SPACE!!!

24 Aug
 

Good day one and all!
(click to enlarge)
Great to see you all back here again, today we’re again taking a break from the more… esoteric and out there comics and treading more familiar ground. Oh wait… not exactly, I mean it is, he’s Marvel comics mainstay character from the Avengers, hero story and all that but… ah well, you’ll just have to see for yourself folks and I can’t help myself – must bring you something to jog the imagination a little more then usual, variety is the spice after all is it not?
(click to enlarge)

For your pleasure we bring to you today the first mini-series that Marvel EVER put out. Ever. And mini’s are now an industry standard. Couple that with this being the first book by its writer/artist and starring a then second-string character, well it makes it all the more impressive! Those of you that are fans of Marvel comics, especially in recent years, you will have read or heard of books like “Incredible Herc”, “Chaos War” and others where Hercules, the lion of Olympus, stood tall and proud and delivered spectacular action and great wit and laughs. Truly in the last few years the character has seen a revival and become so much more interesting then the one-track-minded, brutish, drunken horn-dog that he was for so long – today he’s a funny, charsimatic and surprisingly intelligent one-track-minded, brutish, drunken horn-dog. Under the guiding hand of Greg Pak – a man who is without a doubt one of the best writers in past years for me with the way he revamped the Hulk franchise with stuff like Planet Hulk and all the other great titles and stories he’s been writing – Herc and his parnter, child genius Amadeus Cho were a force to be reckoned with and the Marvel U would not be the same today in my view without their adventures!

But on to the main matter at hand!

Our topic for today is a limited series from the ancient era of 1982. Some of you may in your old addled memories recall that age, when comics were a different realm altogether.
In this midst of all the super-heroing and adventures however came an adventure unlike most any other with a story and style that brought me immense pleasure reading:
HERCULES: PRINCE OF POWER
(Click to enlarge)
Written and drawn by Bob Layton (Iron Man: Armour Wars) with the legendary Jim Shooter as editor-in-chief riding shotgun through this mad romp we find this space-faring godly saga that was so popular it spawned a 2nd limited series two years later, a graphic novel 4 years after that and even in fact a 4th just last year that wrapped up this alternate possible future romp for our hero.
But I’m meandering again. To the comic!
We find at the start of our tale mighty Hercules returning to fabled Olympus for some fun, fights, games and a good time – all of which he is famously known for partaking heartily of – only to find it not quite as exciting as he remembered and before long he is drawing some godly anger for his playful shennigans.
Next thing you know Herc is banished from not only Olympus, but from Earth itself until he finds some humility and a little more sense.Talk about tough parenting…
(Click to enlarge)
Granted thats not all that surprising considering what we know of the character – and I have to admit its certain similarities between the character of Herc, the playful sense of humour in the overall story and the very creatively put together string of adventures that this mini shares with Pak’s later style/take on the character that made it so easy for me to just dive into it all. They are similar enough, yet both unique in their own ways which makes it so easy to read both and not be bothered about whether it is the same continuity or not. Who cares right?
Anyway, so we follow Herc as he rides a chariot through the cosmos – yes a chariot, with horses that eat, well, people… sort of…
(Click to enlarge)
In any case, he picks up a Rigellian recorder robot (long-time marvel fans will be familiar with these) on the way after meeting with some brainy aliens who would like it to travel with our hero and record his adventures and all that jazz. This of course suits the lion of Olympus just fine.
Before you know it, both are rocketing around the space-ways. Fights ensue, as do romantic interludes (oh yeah!) and of course daring heroics and even a space-race – chariot vs. space-ship, who do you think wins? Read to find out ‘cos I sure ain’t telling! 
 

(Click to enlarge)
To quote Layton himself from Wizard #199:
I wanted to do a coming-of-age story, and the idea of doing it with a 5,000-year-old Greek demigod tickled my funny bone. Herc had always been portrayed by Stan Lee as a conceited, arrogant but likable prick so … it was time for Herc to grow up a bit and develop a degree of self-awareness. I’ve always had a soft spot for forgotten secondary characters and additionally, I had always wanted to try my hand at comedy writing, and Herc was the perfect foil for my brand of humor.”

 

Facing all kinds of foes and making friends as well along his travels, Hercules grows as a character nicely over the course of the story. And no he isn’t perfect and returning to reclaim his rights at the end or some such cliché, this is just the beginning of more adventures – and just because it bears being mentioned: at one point we even get to see HERCULES VS. GALACTUS!
(Click to enlarge)
That a fight that intrigues you? Well I hope you take the time out to read this because be you casual, regular or even fanatical/obsessive as a comic reader and so long as you don’t have too fastidious a genre choice, this is the perfect kind of barely-heroic adventure story for everyone. Witty, violent, foolish and wise all in good measure, this really made me stop and find the follow-ups and wish Layton had done more as a comic writer!
Cheers till next week all!

Give heed to The Marvel Cosmic! (Part 1)

14 Jul

Welcome back one and all to another edition of the Wayfarer – and this week Im going to have to get right to it as we’re going to be covering some titles and events that have been requested by many readers and comic-fans out there looking for guidance. And we are ready to provide it!

CLICK TO ENLARGE!!

Today’s extra-special post covers the amazing and highly successful (unexpected for Marvel in fact at the time) world(s) of cosmic adventure and intergalactic action that exploded onto the comic world with the Annihilation event and began a true renaissance of space-based science fiction in comics.
For a science fiction fan such as myself it was an absolute blessing because (and I say this to in the spirit of honesty) while DC’s work on the space books with the GL titles has been great, its basically Lantern-centric space opera – more Star Wars then Star Trek if you will. And maybe its just me but as much as a good dramatic space opera can be fun, there’s nothing quite like the mind-bending awesomeness, the creativity, the blurring of lines and unavoidable tight-rope walk of disbelief and clear understanding and the familiar.

In this Marvel in my opinion has actually crafted a far superior mythos through the able and masterful craftsmanship of the legendary team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – lovingly known to fans as DnA because of their long history of excellent work together in comics across the industry.

Building on a base set up over the years by Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen and other legendary story-tellers this new set of Cosmic tales are a pleasure for readers both old and new – if you like me have read all the old books like The Infinity Gauntlet then its brilliant, but in a twist on tradition, if you’ve never read anything of them before you can still jump right back into the middle of things here with no trouble!

What Im going to try and do is break it down for you into the basic bits and order so that you can be caught up in no time and today like me be hankering and waiting Gollum-like for more tales of space adventure and entertainment with some of the more compelling and well crafted characters and stories from The Big Two comic publishers in quite a while.
So come, sit back and let your eyes wander over this quick little burst of the Power Cosmic (as the Silver Surfer puts it) and maybe if I can do this just right you might find yourself compelled to get past that little hesitation that always comes when trying a new book.
To start with let me reiterate one last time – even if you have little or no familiarity with these characters and/or settings: DONT PANIC! (oh and Ive added a lot of high-res pics to click to enlarge and enjoy the excellent artwork!!)
The beauty of these books is that you can read them for what they are and no be hampered. And now, on to the comics themselves:

1) THANOS (12 issue limited series – 2004)

To start with I would highly recommend reading the Thanos maxi-series before diving in to this realm BUT (and this is important) it is not mandatory and if you really feel like you want to limit your reading, stick to the second half – #7-12 which is a story arc called “Samaritan” written by Giffen who adds just the right touch of suspense and the aura of mystery, power and unknowable purpose that was always the most defining feature of the Mad Titan. These unfortunately were lacking in a lot of Starlin stories that came before this though not so much in the first issues of this series.
Essentially I recommend reading Samaritan simply because it introduces Thanos well – and even if he only pops up now and again trust me he’s always important! – and its like a chess game where here you see some pieces that play big parts in the coming adventures and you get an introduction and some understanding, like a setup of sorts. It takes Thanos on a journey, a quest if you will and following this mad God makes for an interesting read.

The Mad Titan in full form!

For those that know him not – Thanos is a Titan, not the Greek kind but close enough. In the Marvel Universe there exists a race of beings that you may see or hear sporadically in comics called The Eternal (created by THE legendary master Jack Kirby) – now just take it that they are gods and through them on Saturns moon Titan came to be a powerful race called the Titans and Thanos was one of them. He was born a mutant (anyone else thinking X-men crossover?) and grew up dreaming of conquest and destruction and eventually left Titan, became a nihilist and amassed power, eventually falling in love with Death herself (she is a she) and keeps trying to destroy everything as a gift of love for her – hey takes all kinds I guess! But he has on occasion been on the other side and ended up SAVING everything when all the heroes have failed, overall making him something of an enigma as a character and his purpose in the universe, one of the reasons he is as interesting a character as he has evolved to be today.
Hell this is a character that has controlled the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gauntlet, whooped arse on every superhero Marvel has to offer, beaten on cosmic entities and even been consort to Death herself for a time! Trust me, his adventures and his part in all this are important – in this series alone he not only has a debate with Galactus but adopts The Fallen One (the first ever Herald of Galactus, yeah you heard right) as his own Herald. Beat that. 
Quick trivia: his brother is Eros a.k.a. Starfox, the dude who was hot and heavy for a while with She-Hulk (ok, little jealous here) and has the power to pretty much make anyone fall and all over him. Nice huh?

2) DRAX THE DESTROYER: EARTH FALL (limited series – end 2005)

Now this is a series that is about a character sadly under-used (in my humble view) and so while I would say read it, it is not required reading. However I will say this, it was meant to be and is a lead-in to the Annihilation crossover event.
Mentor
DRAX

For those who don’t know his deal – he was a simple human dude named Arthur Douglas who was merrily driving on a highway with his family when they saw Thanos in his UFO and were destroyed for having seen what they were not meant to see. His daughter survived and was rescued by Mentor, Thanos’ father, only to be raised into a powerful being that would pop up in Marvel comics as Moondragon – part time villainous b-er-witch and later reformed hero. The poor man that was her father once was dead – however Mentor had realised his son was a danger and could not be left unchecked and so he and his own father Chronos created a new body out of soil itself, granted it immense power – enough to rival Thanos – and bonded the soul/essence of poor Arthur to it. They wiped all recall of who he was and ingrained a desire and obsession to kill Thanos deep within him, making him a Thanos hunting machine. In the old comics he chased and interfered with Thanos a lot but eventually became lost when Thanos was finally (seemingly) killed by Marv-ell. Long story short he went through a lot, eventually died but then was brought back when Thanos returned to life and after some more stuff was on a prison transport that crashed to Earth and became friends with a little girl named Cammie (whom he confused with his daughter) and whooped some serious butt! 

Friggin hilarious!

This last part – the crashing, the little girl, the kicking of arse – thats pretty much what this mini is about so no worries about it being story heavy. All the story you need Ive just filled you in on! Look at that, two points in and you’re all caught up and expert and all that! 
Now on to the big stuff with all the precursor out of the way!

 

NOTE: Hereon the descriptions get smaller as I’ve now filled you in on the backstory that you might feel worried about and now you just need to start reading! The rest of this article is just to help you keep track and give you a little info and thoughts on the stories.

3) ANNIHILATION (2007-8 cosmic event/6-issue mini-series)

So here we are – the big event that really was the godfather of it all for me – the event that showed (and still shows) what cross-overs and events should be like as opposed to the massive stuff Marvels been doing with everything from Civil War to Dark Reign to Heroic Age.  All are well and good but the MASSIVE list of titles and tie-ins and mini-series and blah, blah, blah that they tie into these big events make it (1) prohibitively expensive to enjoy the whole event and (2) make it far more complicated and drawn out then it needs to be really.
In short the Annihilation event is available in three trade-paperbacks (I bought all recently) that covers everything from the lead-in to the mini-series that tied into the event and the main mini-series itself, plus the epilogue issues. Its just that simple.
The event itself covers the invasion of our Universe by an incalculably large army from another Universe called the Negative Zone, led by would-be-conqueror (FF fans will be familiar with this dude!) Annihilus – this army is so vast and deadly it destroys most everything in its way and called the Annihilation Wave. The crux of the series is lead into by the four mini’s which bring our lead characters together to the main series which then follows the main war itself and is a brutal but fantastically written and deeply human and real tale – a real war story if you will.

This saga of space skirmishes and struggles includes these four 4-issue mini-series:

  • Nova – focuses on the human hero named Richard Rider/Nova who is a part of the Nova Corp from the planet Xandar, kind of like the GL of this universe except more like a military outfit and powerful but not magic ring and forming giant fist power – just plain old fashioned blow-em-outta-the-sky power. His mini follows his immediate adventures after the Annihilation Wave first hits and literally destroys every member of the Nova Corp, except Rider. Now playing host to the combined power of the ENTIRE Corp plus having the Worldmind (a living supercomputer that is the regulator of the Nova Force and caretaker of the entire collective database of Xandarian civilization) take up residence in his head. Plus he runs into Drax and well, I’ll leave you to read and enjoy yourself!
  • Silver Surfer – A fast paced and intense mini, we follow the Silver Surfer as he returns to the service of the devourer of worlds, Galactus himself, when he learns of the Annihilation Wave and Annihilus’ plan to capture all the Heralds of Galactus and maybe even Galactus himself to use for his own power – trust me, not a happy picture! Thanos shows up in this mini and we see his scheming and plotting and the way fate itself twists around this character. You get to see the Surfer totally cut loose and tear through some serious volumes of enemies, a good read for fans of the Surfer.  
  • Ronan – in this mini we follow the travels of Ronan the Accuser, formerly one of the most powerful and respected of the alien race known as the Kree (hey, Im linking but if you’ve read Marvel comics over the years it would be shocking if you hadn’t heard of them by now!) who is now an exile on the run – chasing down his former accusers. The series follows his man-hunt which eventually leads into meeting Gamora – inter-galactic hottie and arguably the deadliest woman in the Universe. Eventually the Annihilation Wave comes their way as well and they must all decide whether to run or to fight. Read it to find out!
  • Super-Skrull – Ok, I shouldn’t have to tell anyone who this guy is, especially after Secret Invasion but in a nutshell he is a Skrull who was given the powers of the entire Fantastic Four. He is seriously badass and ruthless to boot which makes him a scary opponent to have. This series however follows him trying to find a way to save his son from the Annihilation Wave and is full of intrigue and some serious action.
SPECTACULAR!!

OK!! So now we’ve covered the brunt of the Cosmic Reading for those so inclined, now I’ll do a REALLY fast rundown of what comes after just in case you enjoy the rest of this enough to want more – which Im pretty darn sure you will!

4) NOVA (ongoing- series)

Well, after the awesomeness of the comics described above it was just a matter of time before our man Richie Rider got himself a new solo-series. It follows the adventures of Nova post the Annihilation Wave during things like rebuilding planets, returning to Earth after many years only to find the Civil War and its after-effects in his once home, trying to rebuild the Nova Corp and of course – it crosses into the Annihilation: Conquest event during its all-too short run of just three years. Recomended reading from me.

5) ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST (cosmic event/ 6-issue mini-series)

The Hero Shot! Yeah!
Darkhawk!

And now we are approaching the tail end of my little cosmic carousel here – but believe me it stays wicked from hereon too!
Annihilation: Conquest picks up not too long after the events of Annihilation itself – it starts a little after the war and instead of jumping to the next happy point as if the past was the past we find ourselves seeing the aftermath of the Annihilation Wave’s passage and the cost of stopping it. We see a devastated Kree homeworld and empires in ruin. But then as if to kick the wounds suddenly the Phalanx (a cybernetic species who exist as a Hive-mind) under the control of a surprise techno villain that you all know as Marvel fans, take over the weakened and battered Kree army. In a matter of weeks they have ‘assimilated’ (like the borg in Star Trek but not as boring) all the Kree and encased literally the ENTIRE Kree galaxy in an energy field. A whole galaxy.

Wraith
Star-Lord and Quasar kicking butt!

Nova returns once more in the role of lead hero, alongside Star-Lord (Peter Quill), Quasar, and a new character named Wraith who I thought was one of the most AWESOME-ly badass characters I’ve ever seen!! I mean look at him! Sadly he’s been out of the picture since this event but I hold out hope to see him back on the page someday. Also returning are Ronan the Accuser, Moondragon, Super-Skrull, Gamora and more prominent this time around we see Mantis and the inimitable and oh-so-wicked Rocket Raccoon who along with Groot has become arguably my favourite character in the Marvel cosmos right now. Oh yeah! and this event also saw the return of Adam Warlock to the Marvel Universe.
Now this crossover followed pretty much the same pattern as Annihilation except that instead of four mini’s it had three of them and four issues of the ongoing Nova v4 tied into it.

*PHEW*Thats a lot of stuff, but again not nearly as much as some of volumes and volumes of books that have become standard ‘tie-in’ and required reading for events that happen in DC and Marvel these days. I mean if you think about it – every comic that Ive just covered which spans almost four years of story, well the actual number of comics covers maybe two events or so. Thats how nice and tight the stories are, thats how neatly its all put together where they are not constant but slowly and steadily put out over the last few years to give us something, take a brief break and then dive right back it – as opposed to the constant bombardment of events left, right and centre that the main books have been doing to already over-loaded readers.

I will be back again next week with the wrap-up and bring you the run-down on everything from mid-2008 after this event was over until the most recent Cosmic awesomeness (hey, these books make me use that word a lot, what can I say?) which is going to be hitting Earth soon in a book called Annihilators: Earthfall for which I’m not going to say anything as a fan, simply quoting Marvel themselves:

Though it remains one of the most asked after pieces of the Marvel Comics publishing line by fans at conventions and online, the Marvel Cosmic books written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have had a question mark over their future for many months. Today, the publisher announced with the teaser at right that the most recent core team of the Cosmic world would not just continue on but would hit earth for a big battle in “Annihilators: Earthfall” this fall.
“We really wanted to do a story that brought Marvel Cosmic and Marvel Earth head to head, so that these two parts of the overall Marvel Universe could meet and interact and the readers could enjoy a good old compare and contrast,” Abnett told Marvel.com of the September-launching series. “A desperate and vital mission brings the Annihilators to Earth, and what generates the conflict with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is basically the clash of jurisdiction, and the incompatible interests of both teams; what’s good for Earth might not be good for the Galaxy—and vice versa!”

Excited? Yeah, me too! So I’ll see you all next week – SAME COSMIC TIME! SAME COSMIC WEB-SITE!!!

A Hero to Salute on Memorial Day

29 May
With it being the Memorial Day weekend we thought we at Comic Addicts should salute a hero who is the embodiment of the core values of not just the armed forces, but of what attributes a partiot should have. Many of you must be thinking that we’re referring to Superman, but this particular individual HAS NOT renounced his American Citizenship and never will. Today we’re going to take a good look at Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.
Captain America fist appeared in 1941. A frail Steve Rogers wanted more than anything to join the military and serve his country fighting the Nazi’s. Unfortunately for Rogers he was a 4-F and rejected. So when the chance came to participate in an experimental super soldier program Rogers jumped at it. Even though he knew it could kill him he figured that if nothing else the sciensts would be able to benefit and perfect the syrum. However, the syrum didn’t kill Rogers. Instead it turned him into Captain America. Where once puny 4-F Steve Rogers stood now there was a man who was the peak of human physical perfection. Rogers also learned several forms of martial arts including American boxing making him one of the best combatants on Earth. The only weapon he carries is his vibranium shield. Then he was frozen in the Arctic, but thawed out to become the leader of the Avengers.


Captain America proudly wears the red, white, and blue as he battles threats to democracy and human decency. Although, lets be honest for a moment. Captain America came about as a sort of answer to all of the Nazi Propoganda that was being put out. Captain America was a way to get the kids involved on fighting the Nazi threat. It was amazing that suddenly America had this hero who couldn’t be defeated no matter how hard the Third Reich tried. It was inspiring to think about. However, don’t misconstrue us. Even though he came about as a piece of American propaganda Captain America has proven himself time and again that he is an amazing hero.

Let’s do a little compare and contrast for a little bit. In Superman: Earth One it’s all about how depressed Superman is because he has these amazing powers and he doesn’t know what to do with them on and on. Captain America has to constantly be at the peak of his game because it’s his job to inspire and lead the American forces in WWII. There is a lot on Cap’s shoulders because he is the first and only one of his kind. Not only that, but Cap doesn’t really have any powers. He has enhanced human abilities. So while Cap and Superman my share the title for biggest boyscout and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders Captain America is a mortal man while Superman is a superpowered alien. Imagine being the poster boy of truth, justice, and the American way, but without all of the superpowers. Although the biggest difference between Captain America and Superman (besides superpowers) is that Cap is a soldier trained to kill if necessary while Superman won’t kill pretty much under any circumstance (Doomsday aside of course).

Captain America is one of the few people who can bring down the Hulk. Isn’t that astounding? Hulk may be strong, but he’s not smart. Cap also butts heads with Tony Stark on a regular basis. Tony is a mechanical genuis, but Cap knows when to put him in his place. Having courage like that is admirable. Then again that was one of the attributes that made Steve Rogers appealing for the test was his bravery.

On July 22 Chris Evans takes up the shield in the new movie Captain America: The First Avenger. Believe it or not Cap has been on the big screen before:

Then of course Cap has been on the small screen as well:

So as you celebrate Memorial Day remember to thank the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces. Then after thank Stan Lee for giving us an icon to look up to as he has two feet firmly planted on the ground.

One Last Ride!

18 May

Only the Legends live forever…

These words are very important – as lessons about any story, be it fictional, historical or even a combination of the two… Whatever happens in life, the facts may or may not make it down memory lane over time and the same goes for all kinds of details – but the Legends… Ah, they are immortal!

This weeks Wayfarer takes us into some very familiar territory. Some of you will find much nostalgia and names from days past, others might just – I hope – be inspired to pick up books they’ve never known about and find new worlds and heroes.

Today we’re here to talk about a mini-series from a few years back called “Blaze of Glory: Last Ride of the Western Heroes” written by John Ostrander.

Before getting to the review proper it occurred to me that not everyone gets the appeal of the old west and some might dismiss this saga out of hand based on just that. Now dont take this as pushing an opinion, but I feel everything has it’s upsides and worthy points, you have spectacular tales such as this one and by the same token you can have stuff like… well Wild Wild West (the modern movie version…).

This series however hearkens to the real Wild West, the world that captured hearts and minds and till today resonates with so many for any number of reasons. To really understand it, I call your attention to this theory I heard once in a movie no one I know ever watched (that I know of…) where a hitchhiker is quoting to the driver the basic idea of a theory from one Frederick Jackson Turner called the Frontier Theory.
Well I’m not gonna drag it but here’s the idea in a nutshell: (kudos if you know the movie!)

Hitcher: “…he was an historian. About a hundred years ago he came up with a theory about the frontier. He said the frontier was a safety valve for civilization, a place for people to go to keep from goin’ mad. So, whenever there were folks who couldn’t fit in with the way things were, nuts, and malcontents, and extremists, they’d pack up and head for the frontier. That’s how America got started – all the crackpots and troublemakers in Europe packed up and went to a frontier which became the thirteen colonies. When some people couldn’t fit in with that, they moved farther west, which is why all the nuts eventually ended up in California. Turner died in 1932, so he wasn’t around long enough to see what would happen to the world when we ran out of frontier. Some people say we have the frontier of the mind, and they go off and explore the wonderful world of alcohol and drugs, but that’s no frontier. It’s just another way for us to fool ourselves. And we’ve created this phony frontier with computers, which allows people to, you know, think they’ve escaped. A frontier with access fees?”
Driver: “What about space? You know, the final frontier!”

Hitcher: “Ah, Star Trek isn’t space. That’s television – fine fuckin’ frontier that is. Besides, how many folks can just pack up and go to space?”

And you know what? In a way the man’s completely right. This is precisely what appeals – those of us who have a penchant for wildness, that ‘frontier spirit’ and desire to just get out and away and make a new world, we are the ones who find an innate love for such tales and idea’s and the things they embody – both good and bad. Some say “You don’t know how ugly things could be back then!” and while I agree there is a certain truth in that – ITS THE WHOLE POINT! Finding yourself, chasing the unknown and building a new life and fighting to keep it. Law and life and ideals raw and unfettered by the long list of social mores and norms and propriety and etc, etc, etc… If it’s in you, you by now know exactly what I speak of, if not, well you probably never will – aint your fault, way it is I guess.

With that out of the way, ON TO THE COMICS!!! 🙂

I came across this mini-series purely by chance while trying to find out about other comics and the cover art and concept instantly caught my imagination and I had to read it. The name is literally what the book is – no exaggeration, no confusion.
This book is a story in which some of the most iconic names in Western comics come together for one huge shoot-em-up, madhouse rumble old west-style in an adventure and confrontation worthy of the O.K. Corral – arguably the most famous gunfight in western lore, most know the movie only but it really did happen kiddies, I kid you not!

Our adventure brings together Wyatt Earp, Gunhawk, Buffalo Bill, , Billy the Kid, Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid, The Two-gun Kid, Wild Bill Hickock, Caleb Hammer, Reno Jones,The Outlaw Kid and Red Wolf and The Ghost Rider.

Some of those names will jump right at you and some may not – trust me, that cast is ALL BAD-ASS! And this here double page-splash from the first issue is a terrific shot of the whole group also giving you a quick run-down on who’s who – the characters are all excellently handled and I found it exceedingly easy to keep track of who was who and what they were doing. You really should click and see the whole spread, trust me!

Written in a fast and intense, yet strangely comfortably paced manner, Ostranders narrative flows very nicely from the early pages over the course of the entire four issues. Starting with a simple story about a town called Wonderment started way out west by post Civil War freed ex-slaves and other outsiders that is being attacked and marauded by hooded monsters – the very human and bigoted kind – for no apparent reason.
Heroes emerge and after a little searching and some quick recruitment the heroes race to make it back to the town they plan to save and hope that there is enough of it left do so! Of course there is the matter of the bandit army devastating the place and the problems of our heroes themselves.
And here we find another little key factor that other genre’s I feel have adapted from westerns. Its not exclusive, sure, but the cowboy hero was always the decent guy with a questionable moral system all his own, many kills under his belt and more then a few folks who’d like to see him six-feet-under or swinging from a rope.

In this tale Ostrander takes western story-telling back to its gritty and grimy roots – crafting an excellent tale filled with a certain historical touch, very grounded in reality and most unlike what one might expect from such a comic. People die here, good and bad. Good guys don’t always feel good and there is a stark and brutal reality to what is racing toward the characters as the story barrels forward like a bullet train, always keeping true though as if on rails!
Gone are outlandish and unrealistic tales. Here the old comics are somewhat retconned to be simply dime-novels printed about these heroes in the time preceding this story, simply fiction.
Reading this saga I kept having flashes of so many classic westerns I’ve seen, filled with characters lovable and despicable – at times in the same breath – and others who you should hate but find greater depth and sorrow within them.  There were times I half expected Clint Eastwood’s character from Unforgiven – William Munny – to be a panel away, awash in firelight telling me, “Its a hell-ofa thing, killing a man…” Classic and compelling.

Filled with very suitable art that while not perfect as some, works great for this type of saga. The dirty, raw feel of it along with the kind of palate chosen for it really brings the harshness and the reality of the story to life – I had not really known Argentinian artist Leonardo Manco prior to this but his work on this series of which he is also co-creator.

Highly recommended if you have even a passing fancy for westerns and this kind of b*lls to the walls story-telling rich with history and character – and for those that don’t really ‘get’ westerns, I would say if you have to give it a shot, this may as well be it.
Sure there may well be better stories out there, but as far as the comic medium goes, except perhaps certain issues and arcs of the just as legendary Jonah Hex in his decades long career, this is one of the finest pieces of story-telling in the genre I have come across. It is one I know for certain I will be revisiting and am glad to have found.

Oh and I strongly recommend that anyone reading this should first listen to this track to create the right feeling going inside (hey what can I say, I create mental soundtracks for everything!)

Now if’n ya don’ mind folks, Ima gonna get on ol’ dusty here and be takin’ yore leave – that there sunset looks like one fine one ti ride off into. G’day folks…